NICM & Blackmores Institute: PhD scholarship in the management of osteoarthritis

An exciting opportunity exists for a highly motivated doctoral candidate to undertake a PhD with NICM focused in the management of osteoarthritis, investigating the use of a standardised herbal formula.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common chronic degenerative articular disease that could lead to severe disability if left untreated. NSAIDs and corticosteroids are widely used to control the symptoms associated with OA. However, these medicines fail to slow down the progression of the disease and are often associated with a broad range of potentially severe side effects. Complementary medicine (e.g. herbal medicine) has been used for the treatment of OA and other inflammatory diseases for over many years. But these interventions need to be scientifically validated to become viable options for the management of OA.

About the project

The project will mainly involve a randomised clinical trial to evaluate the clinical effectiveness and safety of a standardised herbal formulation in participants with OA. The participants will be recruited in selective recruitment centres and will be randomly allocated to receive the active treatment of placebos. Outcome measures including pain intensity, physical function, quality of life and inflammatory biomarkers will be assessed regularly during the treatment. The clinical trial protocol and other components of this PhD project will be negotiated between the eligible candidate and the supervisory panel. Through this project the candidate will develop valuable skills in clinical research and in systematic review of clinical evidence.

The candidate will be responsible for carrying out the research project and to publish research results under the guidance of the supervisory panel; Professor Dennis Chang, Professor Alan Bensoussan and Professor Stephen Myers. A standardised herbal medicine product and its placebo will be provided by Blackmores Institute.

What does the scholarship provide?

  • Domestic candidates will receive a tax-free stipend of $35,000 per annum for up to three years and a funded place in a doctoral degree.
  • If the successful applicant is in receipt of a Research Training Program (RTP) Stipend, they will receive an additional $10,000 top-up scholarship.
  • Additional funding of up to $50,000 over three years to conduct the research, including costs for implementation of the project, conference presentations and travel, equipment, and open access publication.
  • Benefits and allowances including a thesis production allowance, a relocation allowance, three months extended sick leave and three months parental leave.

Eligibility criteria

This scholarship is open to domestic applicants only (Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents or New Zealand citizens).The successful applicant should:

  • Hold qualifications in the fields of health science, nursing, psychology, or biomedical science equal to one of the following; (i) an Australian First Class Bachelor (Honours) degree, or (ii) a Masters degree with a significant research component, or (iii) equivalent qualifications.
  • Have experience/interest in clinical research

How to apply

1. Contact Professor Dennis Chang ( to discuss your eligibility, the project requirements and your intention to apply.

2. Complete the scholarship application form (PDF, 222.11 KB).(opens in a new window)

3. Compile your CV, contact information for two referees and a one-page proposal stating how your research interests align with the project aims.

4. Ensure all documentation is certified according to Western Sydney University requirements.

5. All applications and supporting documentation must be submitted directly to the Graduate Research School as follows:

  • Use the email subject line: Application_2017_048_NICM
  • Submit to
  • All attached documents must be submitted as PDF
  • In the body of your email, include your full name, your student ID (if you are a current or previous Western Sydney University student) and the full title of the scholarship

Incomplete applications or applications that do not conform to the above requirements will not be considered.

Please contact Western Sydney University's Graduate Research School via email at for more information.

Applications close 26 November 2017